The following is a recap and review of the final episode of the third season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.
In the final episode of the third season — Lantern — Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk) tries to fix things, Nacho (played by Michael Mando) introduces Hector Salamanca to his father, and Hamlin makes Chuck an offer. Lantern was written by Gennifer Hutchison and directed by Peter Gould.
Sibling rivalry isn’t a made up term. It very much exists. But even with the worst sibling relationships, I imagine that there are moments between the two that makes them both smile — moments that, for whatever reason, mean a lot to them.
Previously this season, a heartwarming story about how Chuck had read The Adventures of Mabel to his little brother Jimmy was mentioned. It was important to Chuck that Jimmy could remember that he was the one who read it to him. Chuck was the proud older brother, who read aloud to his sibling to tell him a grand story. For whatever reason, that was an important memory for Chuck.
In the episode-opening teaser, we get to see that very scene. Chuck and Jimmy are camped out in a tent in the backyard, and Chuck is reading aloud to Jimmy, while a lantern is the only object which allowed for this moment between the two boys. Without that light, Chuck couldn’t have read the story to Jimmy. Without that light, that moment wouldn’t have happened.
And it is that very object — the inanimate object that allowed for a good moment between two brothers who would later come to many disagreements — that ends it all. During the hearing, it was that lantern that Jimmy and Kim had pointed out was dangerous to put on top of papers in Chuck’s home. It was a piece of evidence used against Chuck, who might’ve previously associated that lantern with that good memory.
Now Chuck’s mind is the problem, and it is the reason why Hamlin (played by Patrick Fabian) decides to buy his partner out of their company. Chuck has lost his family, his friendships, his profession, and his company by trying to ruin his own brother. With Hamlin’s decision, Chuck’s downfall is complete, and his downfall is met with applause by the people at his company who want to wish him well on his retirement, which they likely do not all know was forced.
In all of Jimmy’s scheming, he lost sight of the well-being of the people who mean the most to him. Kim got hurt in the previous episode, and Jimmy has realized that she matters more to him than the office and everything else. Jimmy blames himself and makes some key decisions about their future as partners. Jimmy promises to ‘fix things.’
Fixing things means getting back together with Chuck, Jimmy just wants to know his brother is okay now. Jimmy expresses regret but Chuck doesn’t want to listen to it. Chuck says Jimmy will never change and that he should just accept and embrace who he really is. In a scene that is all about lying to Jimmy to act as if he is perfectly fine and healthy, Chuck comes up with the biggest lie of all — that Jimmy never really mattered to him. Chuck is twisting the knife that he placed in his brother’s back.
The truth is that Chuck’s methods aren’t fully working. It was not just an overnight success. It is still an unbearable illness for Chuck who is stuck in his own mind, in his empty house, after having alienated everyone around him. The tragedy does not end there, as is later revealed.
Jimmy’s mission to fix things, also leads him back to his latest scheme — Irene and her former friends. Jimmy wants to prove that, deep down, he’s a good person and not just a no-good schemer. So, he effectively ruins his reputation to undo the damage he did to Irene’s. One thing is for sure, Jimmy’s career in elder law is over now. The settlement deal is canceled, but, ethically, it was probably the right thing to do.
But Jimmy is about to lose something far more valuable than the settlement deal or his friendship with his clients — Jimmy loses his brother in this episode. In Chuck’s home, the aforementioned lantern is the only light in the darkness. Chuck has had enough, so he deliberately kicks the lantern onto the floor to set fire to his home and take his own life in the darkest ending to a season of Better Call Saul yet.
This episode did not have room for Mike, but it did have room for Nacho. The day that Nacho had long feared finally arrived. Nacho shows Hector and his men around in the Varga family business. Nacho’s father is a proud man, and he initially declines Hector’s proposal, much to the disappointment of Hector.
Nacho knows what that disappointment can drive Hector to do to Nacho’s father, and he becomes worried about what Don Hector may think to do to sort things out. Hoping to prevent Hector from doing something to his family, Nacho shows up at a high profile meeting in an attempt to kill Hector, but he is prevented from doing that.
Instead, Nacho’s long-anticipated master plan finally comes to fruition. While arguing with Bolsa and Gus Fring, Don Hector has a nasty heart attack, which means the final part of Nacho’s mission has to be completed — he has to switch the fake pills, which have all fallen onto the pavement, out and replace them with the actual pills. Fring clearly becomes suspicious of Nacho, and it may be the set up for a storyline for the upcoming fourth season of the show.
This is an excellent season finale, as it works as a strong conclusion to the central storyline, manages to balance both the Breaking Bad and the Jimmy McGill elements in a satisfying way, but also because it works as a brilliant send-off to Chuck’s sick older brother, who has been right in some moments and downright villainous in others.
This episode originally aired June 19th, 2017, and it is being reviewed now to be ready for the season four premiere.
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen